Sunderland RCA 0 West Auckland Town 1 – Buildbase FA Vase 4th round
Four seconds. By my stopwatch, there were four seconds left in extra time when West substitute Lewis Dodds snatched the latest of late winners.
It had been a long, hard slog by both teams to get to that stage. Both these teams are good enough to reach a Vase final, but this match wouldn’t have graced Wembley.
Chances were few a far between, just like quality passing moves. It wasn’t a game for the football purist.
The deadlock was broken in the 120th minute when West left back Thomas Price sent a ball into the area from the byline. Somehow it managed to evade just about everyone in the six-yard box, with Dodds having the simplest of finishes at the far post to put West Auckland through to the fifth round and just a little bit closer to Wembley.
RCA had one chance in the three minutes of time added to extra time but Mark Davison put it wide.
Up until then the two keepers had done enough to keep the tie scoreless.
In the 13th minute and out of the blue, Jamie Cobain broke free and had a clear run and shot at the RCA goal only for home keeper Scott Pocklington to save it with his feet.
Eight minutes later RCA had two bites of the cherry but were denied by the post and a save by West keeper Shane Bland. RCA No. 9 Nathan O’Neill got the ball out to right winger Michael Charlton whose first shot hit the left hand post and came straight back out to him. Bland managed to scramble back across his goal to save Charlton’s second effort at the near post.
Apart from those chances, the closest either team came to scoring was when Luke Page mis-kicked a clearance that caused Pocklington to put out for a corner at full stretch.
Much of the rest of the game was dominated by play between the two boxes. The best individual contests were down the respective right wings – Amar Purewal up against Ross McNab and Charlton up against Thomas Price.
There wasn’t much time or space for either team to develop much of a passing game. In the second half there was only one shot of note – by West that was an easy take by Pocklington. West had the upper hand in the half, but there wasn’t much in it at all.
Extra time was greeted with a rash of mis-placed passes by both teams with the best shot by West substitute Adam Burnicle in the 7th minute – a shot blocked by RCA captain Greg Swansbury, diving down to get his body in the way. RCA’s best opening in extra time came when Davison put the ball into the West box, forcing Cobain into making an excellent defensive header with O’Neill just behind him in front of goal.
Along with Hebburn Town, West are in the 5th round draw.